Nagpur:The notorious Shreesurya scam which duped thousands of investors has been accounted for the exact number of people who have been cheated.
Earlier it was speculated that over 5,000 gullible investors were duped by the kingpin Sameer Joshi. The recent judgment by Nagpur bench of Bombay High Court, where it denied bail to him, disclosed that he prima facie duped over 5,500 gullible investors to the tune of Rs200 crores.
In some terse observations, justice Sunil Shukre made it clear that offences allegedly committed by him were of very serious nature and much graver than in other cases. “The evidence suggests that over 5,500 gullible depositors have been taken for a ride by him. The possibility of him interfering with prosecution witnesses and course of justice, which are also aspects of fair trial, is not reasonably ruled out.”
The judge added that Joshi employed tricks in entrapping innocent investors and swindled Rs200 crores. “The possibility of him coming out with some proposal for the witnesses, who are also his investors, while offering a hope that something magical would be done by him in returning their money, isn’t ruled out.”
The court refused to consider petitioner’s contention on ‘grounds of parity’ that other co-accused, including his wife was granted bail, and he was behind bars since over three and half years. “The principle of parity can’t be applied, as he’s principal accused and played lead role in committing alleged offences. His situation is much different from that of co-accused on bail. Even his wife stood on much different footing.”
While denying Joshi’s accusations against police for tardy pace of investigations that led to delay in trial, justice Shukre said the blame can’t be entirely placed on the government. “Applicant and co-accused too, have their share in delay, when they’re equally obliged in law to render their cooperation in expeditious disposal of the case.”
His argument that he was unnecessarily being placed behind bars without conviction was also rejected by the court stating that he was being charged under Section 409 of IPC that attracts maximum punishment of lifer. “The impact of crime committed by him on society at large, is much graver. It would be too early to say that just because he’s in jail and the prosecution’s evidence is voluminous entailing delayed trial, he would be entitled to be released on bail.”
The court clarified that it’s required to balance petitioner’s individual interest against societal interest in light of gravity of offences and punishment prescribed for them.
Explaining Joshi’s modus operandi, the judge stated that the companies were to be set up by using investors’ money, but those turned out to be only paper entities. “There appears to be no active source remaining in his hands, to make any real arrangement on immediate basis for returning funds. There is no reasonable assurance that he would not once again resort to same old tactics to make the witnesses fall prey to his fraudulent machinations,” the judge held, before rejecting his plea.